Food Allergies: A Portrait in Customer Service

Silas had a bad reaction to some treats while we were in obedience class. We thought it was the beef-based treats he had gotten from the trainer, but after a while we realized that it was (or, probably more precisely, was also) the Zuke’s Mini Peanut Butter Treats that we had bought him. They were the only thing in the store that was a good size and didn’t have an animal protein. A listed animal protein. (Turkey based treats are hard to find; in most stores we’ve had better luck getting cheese or molasses or peanut butter.)

Taking a cue from my gluten-free friends, I realized that the “natural flavors” on the list were possibly hiding something like a chicken-based flavoring. I e-mailed Zuke’s. I already knew I couldn’t feed him the treats, but all the data we can get about his allergies is useful. Zuke’s promised me that there was no MSG in the product, and that their flavorings were fresh, natural ingredients.

I wrote back, in frustration, that my dog has serious allergies to lots of “healthy, natural” things. While I appreciated that they couldn’t tell me their secret recipe, I would appreciate just a quick “yes or no” on whether or not their natural flavoring included an animal protein. I didn’t even ask which animal. I got no answer.

Around the same time, I bought some CloudStar Peanut Butter treats. I believe they’re the grain free Buddy’s Biscuits, but I don’t have the bag at hand. Having learned my lesson, I double checked for the natural flavors before I opened the bag. And, sure enough, there they were.

Today, because we’re getting low on treats, I e-mailed CloudStar (who makes Tricky Trainers, Buddy Biscuits, and Wag More Bark Less treats) with a similar question: “I know you can’t tell me your secret ingredients, but could you tell me if your natural flavors use any animal proteins at all.”

I had an answer in two hours or less. I’m not going to post it here, because I didn’t ask permission to do so. I will say that the representative agreed that pet owners should be willing to ask questions like that and gave me a more specific answer than I requested.

What I will tell you is that I will recommend CloudStar treats to anybody who asks. They have lots of flavors and options, including a wide variety of treats that have the ingredients list more explicitly spelled out. And if you have questions or concerns, there’s a good chance that the customer service will really answer them.

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8 thoughts on “Food Allergies: A Portrait in Customer Service

  1. Nothing gets my dander up more than poor customer service, you would think with all the issues revolving around pet treats that a company would be proactive on this front. I don’t buy a lot of Zeke’s but I will check out CloudStar. 🙂

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    1. I know, right. The “natural” companies pride themselves on being better than the Made-in-china folks, but then they couldn’t seem to understand my concerns? The Zuke’s treats come in a lot of novel protein flavors (like rabbit), so I took their silence as confirmation that they’re deliberately hiding a potential allergen.

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  2. I’m disappointed to hear that Zuke’s wasn’t more concilatory as I’ve always really liked their treats. It’s too bad they weren’t willing to be more open with a dog owner who clearly just wants information to help her dog. Negative advertising often spreads farther than positive, after all.

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    1. I was really sad. I adored those mini treats–they were the *perfect* size for clicker training, or putting in a Buster Cube, or whatever.

      I honestly would have been okay (disappointed, but okay) if I had gotten a response back that said, “I’m sorry, our company policy doesn’t allow me to give out any more details.” But, nothing.

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  3. I love Cloud Star! I also recommend Wet Noses – the ingredients listed are really straightforward. I learned to check ingredient labels when my last cattle dog suffered from many different food allergies. I finally ended up just baking most of her treats, but since then, both Cloud Star and Wet Noses are my “go-to” treats when I don’t have time or it’s too hot to bake.

    Way to look out for Silas!

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  4. Have you tried/heard of Uncle Larry’s treats or even PureBites? If ever I buy commercial treats (I usually make my own in my dehydrator or freezer) because my dog has a decent list of allergies, as well, I usually go for those brands. Single ingredient and freeze-dried. They are a little difficult to use for training, per say, because they aren’t easy to break apart without crumbling all over. In which case I recommend looking for Paws Gourmet treats, if Silas can tolerate them.

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